Days of Change

Run, Bernie , Run

May 21, 2016
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One of my “predictions” about the race is accurate. Donald Trump will not get the delegates for a nomination until at least June 7, the last day of primaries. I kind of figure Ted Cruz went to ground because he doesn’t want to be painted as fighting a useless battle that would lose the election for Trump. If Trump is going to lose anyway, stay out of his way.

Now, Bernie Sanders is causing some trouble for Hillary Clinton. He will also stay in until the end since she doesn’t have enough delegates, pledged or unpledged. Until there is an alternative, I still support chaos in the Democratic Party, and his name is Bernie.

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Rifling Through

May 20, 2016
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The NRA endorsed Trump today. I think that’s kind of premature given that he’s not the GOP nominee yet and there’s a Libertarian candidate yet to be nominated. Then again, he’s the anti-Hillary and she’s about as gun-grabbing as a candidate gets.

Donald Trump has always been for the safe and legal use of guns. For example:

My people are so smart, and you know what else they say about my people, the polls? They say I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK? It’s like incredible. – January 23

Yep. Breaking NYC guns laws to commit murder seems like an appropriate use for a fire stick.

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Terror Flight

May 19, 2016
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At least Donald Trump seems to know what’s terrorism before anyone else does. Or not. If you parse the words Trump actually says, it’s kind of a word salad of trailing off and “you know” that can be interpreted into anything.

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Try Again, Sony

May 18, 2016
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The second trailer for the slow-motion disaster that is Ghostbusters 2016 came out today. At first glance, Sony Pictures is trying to distance itself from the movie already. Their logo is missing from the beginning of this new trailer and the YouTube video isn’t even on Sony’s site this time. The confusing opening references to the original movie are gone, given that this movie exists in a world where the original Ghostbusters never existed.

The four women on the team are not even introduced this time. There’s more action, less humor (still just as unfunny) and more Thor and Slimer. If there was ever an example of putting lipstick on a pig, this is it.

Sony now has 2 months to try re-shooting, re-editing and marketing this unpopular concept into something that won’t damage Sony’s reputation any more than the hacked e-mails already did. One thing I noticed is that the trailer seemed better because the Ray Parker Jr. Ghostbusters theme was played on and off for almost the entire time. Let’s see how many people that fools.

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Indifference 2016: Adolf Hitler is Not on the Ballot

May 17, 2016

The “big”story today, aside from some pointless primaries, is the Melania Trump interview where she said about her husband, among other things, that “He’s not Hitler.”

This response was actually prompted by perennially unknown comedian Louis C.K. comparing Trump to Hitler. I’m annoyed by this because this is some monumental conclusion jumping where Trump says something about a group of people that is extreme. Then it is interpreted as racist and then compared to Adolf Hitler in true Godwin’s Law fashion.

I don’t think Donald Trump is Hitler. I think people elected Hitler when they wanted change so badly that they selected a charismatic leader who promised fundamental change with a disturbing lack of specificity. The same thing happened with Obama in 2008. It’s happening again with Trump. If we keep doing this, one day we’ll roll the dice and lose.

Here’s the other side of that argument. Hillary Clinton is not Hitler, either. I remember the entirety of the PUMA blogosphere made the case multiple times that Hillary Clinton was much better than Barack Obama. Some have the same opinion today, others have the opposite view that she would be worse than Obama. I think 8 years of Obama fear mongering and Tea Party frenzy led us to the Trump campaign.

I know one thing. Hitler is not on the presidential ballot this year. No matter who I vote for, it won’t be Adolf Hitler. Fear will not corner me into voting for a particular candidate.

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Not to Be Taken Literally

May 16, 2016
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Over the years, I have referred to the political ham sandwich, a candidate that has no other winning attributes other than being less bad than the other guy. Hillary Clinton was such a bad candidate in 2008 that Barack Obama was created by the Democrats to run an anti-Bush campaign. The Clintons must have worked to take over the party because most of the Democrats are now ready for Hillary and her only opposition is an old socialist whose campaign was a little less of a joke than she expected.

Republicans and conservatives were a little too amused by Clinton’s potential nomination to put the requisite effort into getting the right GOP candidate. It may be true that a ham sandwich could beat Hillary Clinton this year. That does not mean that the party should have gotten a ham sandwich nominated.

Now, I know the legend of Donald Trump (a told by John Miller) is of a guy who’s not part of the Washington system and still beat all the insiders and the establishment to win. The reality is that the donors and the friends of the Bushes decided to support a guy who was in 4th or 5th place in the polls while letting Ted Cruz flounder with no money while Donald Trump spent millions of his own money. How could a spoiler not win under those conditions?

So, I have three problems with a Trump campaign. First, he has a fair shot at losing. I think Libertarians will do well this year and he’s to Democrats what Hillary is to Republicans, GOTV fuel. Second, he has few allies to getting what he wants done. Republicans are “endorsing” him because they have no other choice, while others are trying to develop a Trump-free campaign strategy for Congress. Finally, even if all this works and America goes Trump’s way, a lot of his protectionist nationalism bullshit is a pipe dream that will not achieve the desired goals and will probably make the economy less stable.

I’m still indifferent to Trump. I’m not indifferent to this country.

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It’s John Miller Time!

May 15, 2016
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I understand why Trump supporters think that his whole campaign is some sort of Xanatos Gambit where everything he says or does, or has happen to him, was either by design or somehow improves his position even when unplanned. I used to think that way about campaigns I was favoring myself. Obama supporters thought the same thing and his two wins “proved” he was an 11th dimensional chess genius.

It’s no surprise that I see a lot of comments about Trump playing the media in regard to the John Miller story. John Miller is the name of a Trump spokesperson who is actually Donald Trump wanting to brag about himself using a false identity. I believe any Trump supporter happy with this should lose the right to talk about Anthony “Carlos Danger” Wiener’s use of a false identity.

My problem is not really about personal animus toward Donald Trump. It’s that the Republican Party (possibly the United States) has reached peak stupid and is masking ignorance as indifference. I don’t think Trump voters are dumb. I do, however, think most are doing a dumb thing. In 2012, there were over a dozen candidates and none of them wanted to be the establishment choice. We all knew that Mitt Romney was. 2016 had more Republicans from the Tea Party, but they had been in government and made decisions that couldn’t pass the exacting standards of people who want a right wing version of Barack Obama.

Trump is the (slightly more) conservative version of Obama. He has no record of failing or succeeding in government. He financing some buildings, but that happens around the world every day at an even larger scale. Sheldon Adelson builds casinos and endorsed Marco Rubio. Maybe we should have voted for Rubio. Of course, Adelson is donating $100 million to Trump. I guess it’s a good thing Donald hasn’t said anything dumb about Israel yet.

I’ve been in this place before. I had months of complaints about Mitt Romney. I was cold on McCain until he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. I was going to vote against Bush in 2004 until the Democrats ran John Kerry. So, why wouldn’t I change my mind this time? Probably because many Trump supporters are assholes who want to insult people into voting for Trump, then mock them for having no principles.

I figure, what the hell? The Republican Party is a mess. All these claims about some nebulous GOP “establishment” are the old Rockefeller Republican arguments from 20 years ago. Nelson Rockefeller hasn’t been Vice president for 40 years and he’s been dead for 37. We’ve had Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, George W. Bush and the Tea Party overhaul. The term establishment just means the people who don’t do everything you want exactly when you want it. I remember a time when real Republicans complained about Bill Clinton governing by polls. Donald Trump based his campaign on illegal Mexicans, Chinese factory workers and Muslims immigrants because people complain about that the most, even thought the government would have to do some authoritarian shit to combat it.

This is my Xanatos Gambit. If I vote for a Libertarian and he wins, the whole political system gets knocked on its ass, like Trump supporters claim they want. If Hillary Clinton wins, the GOP will be forced to accept conservatives or end up with lunatics running for office, something they started to do in 2014. What if Trump wins? Well, the Democrats are going to have to change their coalition because they have very little in the way of local politicians to fall back on anymore. They’ll either become a more centrist party or end up making the Republicans so big we can weed out idiots like Trump in the future.

Then again, I think Trump wants the Obama administration to call off the IRS audit so he would be forced to release his tax returns. Then Trump drops out because he just wanted to avoid an audit in the first place. If you don’t believe me, just ask John Miller.


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I Pee Freely

May 14, 2016
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Barack Obama has been pretty ineffectual of late. I suppose it gives us all time to focus on the sideshow of a nomination process on both sides. One thing that did happen was a strange directive that states should not stop anyone from using a bathroom in a school or public place on the basis of their physical characteristics. In other words, even if you can use a urinal, you should be able to squat in a stall in a “Ladies” room.

Much like all Obama political moves, this one in fascinating. In some ways, it energizes the people who would oppose the Democrats. However, since Donald Trump is the closest thing to the Republican candidate, his tacit support for bathroom anarchy may peel off more cultural conservatives. One thing it does, however, it open a new front on the culture war. Gay relationships are already the same as straight ones, and that was on a court with Antonin Scalia.

This is where Libertarianism is the ear worm that won’t go away for me. The Libertarian Party is the embodiment of Indifference 2016. Their opinion is that the owner of the bathroom decides who uses it. They’d say gay marriage is fine, but the state should stop issuing licenses entirely and churches can choose who they marry. As for those wedding cakes? You guessed it. Libertarians would let the business owners set their own rules.

I’m young enough that I knew what gay was since I was a kid, but I suspect even “old” people knew pretty early on as well. But what does that really mean? By discussing homosexuality openly for the last few decades, there’s a spectrum that has developed in cultural understanding. You can be gay, but have a history of being confused and be with the opposite sex. You can think you were straight and then become gay later on. You can be gay and then end up being straight. You can be gay or straight and experiment. Or you can be bisexual. Then there are some other options.

Many of us either know people or know about people like this. They were in one group, but defied that definition, as humans often do. Then there’s the even less concrete realm of gender identity. You can dress a certain way or not. You can feel like one gender or another. You can be surgically altered to be more like one gender, but that is no intellectual barrier to living as a different gender. Or you can try denouncing the concept of gender altogether.

What we end up with is a kind of game where the definitions change constantly and people are forced to devote more mental energy and eventually tax dollars to distinctions without a difference. More and more, what is labeled “discrimination” is simply having a different opinion, not denying something. It’s hard for many of use to care about bathrooms when we don’t give a crap anymore.

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Fool Me More Than Once

May 13, 2016
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I didn’t get a chance to vote for Ronald Reagan, so the best president I voted for ended up being George W. Bush. In 2000, his history was of a son of a former president from a political dynasty and a governor of Texas in his second term. The phrase for Bush was “compassionate conservative,” which sometimes meant using the government and fueling it with more tax money. Then there’s the Iraq War, which united non-intervention libertarians and non-military liberals alike. Voters could not truly know everything that Bush would do, even with a political history.

Then there’s Hillary Clinton. I didn’t vote for her or her husband. Given her history on the campaign trail, people just don’t seem to like her. Some of the ones who strongly supported her had no idea that when the real 3am phone call came, she didn’t answer it in Benghazi.

Support for Donald Trump is a rejection of the known for the unknown. It’s a gamble. If there’s one thing that Donald Trump has done for the last 30 years, it’s knowing how to market to the gambler. Gamblers are interesting targets. They actually seek out the unknown with the hope they can know it. Why not pick someone with no experience? At least he can’t contradict an informed opinion.

From my perspective, I knew what I was getting. Bush faced the worst terror attack in US history and the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. That was the true unknown. I always knew Clinton was a terrible person, willing to take a post that kept her in the public eye and foist an idiot upon the country just to get her shot in 8 years. Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.

Donald Trump is all cover. He says he can build a wall and keep out all the drug dealers who use trucks and planes and tunnels. He says he can bring back jobs from China when they have literally billions of dollars of infrastructure and decades of experience we don’t. Has there ever been a better example of the Big Lie theory? Well, maybe one.

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On a Train Bound for Nowhere

May 12, 2016
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A post by insanitybytes22 led me back to something I was thinking about last week. The Donald Trump phenomenon makes me think of the classic song “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers. There’s a train bound for nowhere, much like the Trump train. The people who support him often talk about taking a chance. Then there’s Kenny Rogers himself, who is a fan on Trump.

One thing that seems to be happening is a schism right down the middle of the Republican Party, for and against Donald Trump. People don’t spontaneously realign their basic beliefs, so there must be an underlying conviction being expressed in this break. I think it has to do with Christian morals and values.

Usually, I go back to 1980 for my cultural analysis of politics. This time, I’m starting in 1976. Jimmy Carter famously talked about “lusting in his heart” during the election season. He was popular in the South and was accepted by Evangelicals. The Republican Party of the mid-century was progressive and pragmatic, mostly interested in fighting commies. The Democrats were a party of the people. Ronald Reagan changed that.

The Republican Moral Majority started in the 1980’s, having broken off from the dope smoking immorality of the Carter administration and the left’s obsession with abortion. Conservatism reflected that as well. Young Republicans were clean cut and went to church when they weren’t fighting for lower taxes and a less dictatorial government.

Christian conservatives lost their numbers and their influence over the next two decades. The popular culture and the rigidity of Libertarianism became distracting. Many people who consider themselves conservative politically are often not especially moral. The people who are taking a chance are gamblers, possibly degenerate.

Look at the story of the campus speech with conservatives Steven Crowder and Milo Yiannopoulos. Crowder is a Trump opponent and a devout Christian. Yiannopoulos is a Trump supporter and a pervert. Until Trump, the moral and the moral perversions seemed to have a truce based on the need to stop the coming Obama storm. The Tea Party, for example, had little in the way of moral direction. When the movement chose Sarah Palin over Glenn Beck, they chose to stand against liberal “values” instead of standing for some traditional conservative values.

Let’s look at some of the Trump base. We have the younger and less educated, who have weak moral upbringing. We have older people, who have changed parties more than once and are continuing an eternal Goldilocks search for the “just right” political home. They, like other Trump contingents, don’t care about Trump’s moral ambiguity. They hold on to his bold statements and the moral failings of his opponents. At least his opponents understand the concept of shame.

Were I blogging on a popular site, this would certainly garner a nuclear response. I am curious to see who reads this and responds. I have also found some pretty foul-mouthed personal attacks. I’m sure they’re nice people.

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